Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Week That Was #13: Catalyst

A fair amount of turnover this week near the bottom, along with bands that I recently saw, or aspired to see. Here are some of those new (and old) discoveries, enjoy.

I've realized that I really, really like Bowery Electric. Their last album, Lushlife, blends some of my favorite elements of trip-hop, singer-songwriting, and downtempo, making it a nocturnal work on par with, in my humble opinion, Endtroducing. Their past work, while very well done, relegates singer Martha Schwendener's vocals to the background, which is a shame. But on this track, it really works, and it's one of the most spectacular examples of "tripgaze" that I've ever heard.

MP3: Bowery Electric - Fear of Flying
Buy: Here

Telefon Tel Aviv's Map of What Is Effortless lives up to its name. Trippy IDM beats mix seamlessly with more organic strings and vocals, leading to some of the greatest hybridization of the artificial and organic since, well, "Teardrop." Vocalist Damon Aaron is particularly emotive in this track, and it's a rarity that such a detached genre is able to convey so much emotion. The band releases a remix compilation on May 17th.

MP3: Telefon Tel Aviv - I Lied
Buy: Here

Singer-songwriter the City Lights (aka David Gwaltney) utilizes sparse arrangements and a throaty delivery to create songs of love and loss. Although his material consists of songs recorded over a period of four years, his approach does maintain a stylistic coherency. Within the limits of acoustic guitar and vocals, Gwaltney maintains velocity, offering up-tempo pop songs despite the occasionally melancholy subject matter. While Gwaltney investigates the typical songwriting content, he injects enough personal experience to prevent the songs from becoming completely indistinguishable from his peers. The mournful "Insert Name, NYC," for example, alludes to immediate surroundings before progressing to a more generic line - "girlfriend back home" - but there's enough emotional investment that the song mostly succeeds. While Gwaltney does not offer a particularly groundbreaking approach, his sincere songwriting and confident playing is relatively appealing. -from WSN's Battle of the Bands

MP3: The City Lights - Insert Name NYC
Vote: Here

Chapterhouse is another one one of those shoegazing groups, which is to say, they're probably only appreciated by a small segment of the audiophile population. I first heard them on a random shoegaze compilation, which featured the b-side "Mesmerise." Their most prominent album seems to be Whirlpool, which featured the #8 single "Pearl." Guitarist Simon Rowe would eventually play guitar for Mojave 3.

MP3: Chapterhouse - Mesmerise
MP3: Chapterhouse - Pearl
Buy: Here

Neo-shoegazing is still very much in style, as evidenced by Sweden's Serena Maneesh, and their well received debut. While this first track is gorgeous, the rest of the album is not nearly as accessible, and I found it to be quite exhausting. Of course, the genre was never known for its easy appeal; despite the gift of melodicism, things often become very repetitive. But for those that can appreciate these qualities, it's very rewarding.

MP3: Serena Maneesh - Drain Cosmetics
Buy: Here

Conjure One is essentially a side project for Delerium member Rhy Fulber. As with his main group, he incorporates a number of guest vocalists. While the results may come off as a bit formulaic, the results are usually good enough that their uniformity can be overlooked. This was one of the first songs I heard from either group, and it's remained a constant favorite. Unfortunately, this might be Marie's only collaboration with either group.

MP3: Conjure One - Sleep (ft. Marie Claire D'Ubalbo)
Buy: Here

The lineup for this year's Ottawa Bluesfest has been announced, with artists such as Metric, Final Fantasy, and some guy named Bob Dylan. One sad absence is Controller.Controller, who I saw during last year's festival (actually my first real concert, hard as it may be to believe). Unfortunately, the status of C.C isn't very optimistic, as singer Nirmala Basnayake departed from the group in October. But at least we'll always have the band's great full length, X-Amounts.

MP3: Controller.Controller - PF
Buy: Here

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